Original Wanaka motel up for sale
Builder was ahead of his time
A slice of Wanaka’s tourism history and the first motel believed to be built in the South Island is for sale.
The Helwick St motel was built in the 50s and since been changed into seven residential units but also served as staff accommodation and a backpackers in its time.
At the time it was built many people did not think motels were a profitable venture.
Hamilton woman Jan Birtwistle said her father Frank Fay built and owned the motel and named it the White Elephant Hotel.
The name came from a conversation with then Dunedin mayor Sir Leonard Wright who had said ‘‘that will be a white elephant’’.
Fay sold the motel in the 60s to the then Tourist Hotel Corporation which used it to house staff after the Wanaka Hotel burnt down.
On-site manager and real estate agent Catherine Pearson said ‘‘there is not a lot of history left (in Wanaka) . . . It’s all new houses and new motels. In some ways it will be sad to see it go’’.
Former motel: New Aspiring Realty real estate agent Catherine Pearson at the site of the first South Islands motels in Wanaka which is for sale.